- 5 October 2019
- by samuelaustin
Now first take note, whilst I have plenty of experience and training I am no horse nutritionist. So I would always say take the advice of one over me, on the condition that they do not have any affiliation to a specific feed company or an axe to grind.
I wouldn’t be writing this unless I was asked about it a great deal. Either directly “why don’t you do a hoof supplement” or indirectly “I have and issue with my horses feet and cannot get to the bottom of it” which often leads me to what I am about to write.
When I suggest a customer’s horse may have a possible nutritional issue that is causing their feet to be in a poor condition very often the response is either “oh I have them on a hoof supplement/ balancer” or ask if they should have them on one.
More is not necessarily better
Whilst many minerals are important in your horses diet, they can have too much of a good thing. Mineral and feed balancers are designed to supplement horses with what may be lacking in the average diet. But this is not a suitable option if your horses diet is too high in one mineral or another.
The problem is that minerals can compete against each other of absorption. So too much of one can reduce the absorption of another – adding more of both those minerals probably won’t help and may make matters worse.
If your horse does have a lack or an inbalance of minerals then a lot of balancers won’t help. Many don’t have all the minerals that may be lacking in your horses diet and the rest may not have them in the ratios required to balance your horses current dietary intake. Biotin won’t be your saviour either, your horse should be doing a great job of producing plenty itself.
So what do I do?
To determine what minerals and their levels are already present in your horses diet you need to do some testing. This may be your forage, your grass or even your soil. Your horse feed is the easy bit, the mineral content of that should be displayed on the bag.
Then you either need to do your research, do a fair bit of maths and work out what is low and what is high and try and get your ratios right. Even better find a nutritionalist to do this for you… but expect to pay them and keep in mind that if they work for a feed company they may not be as inpartial as you would hope.